What Does a Car Locksmith Do – How Do They Make Keys?

how do locksmiths make car keys without original

The car key replacement service is required when due for some reason you have lost the key or your key is broken.

There are so many reasons when replacing car keys could be required such as broken keys and lost keys etc.

Well, in these situations, you would need a key that will work exactly the way your old original key used to work.

But that requires higher efficiency and skills which is possible to find only in professional service provider companies.

What Does an Auto Locksmith Do?

Services of an auto locksmith include:

1- Unlock Cars

There may be instances when your vehicle’s key is lost, or broken and gets placed in the car itself and the car is casually locked.

In such cases, you may observe that the ultimate service of any auto locksmith is unlocking a vehicle.

It may be like removing the broken keys, making altogether new keys and in some cases replacing the whole lock and ignition switch themselves and reprogramming.

The locksmith adopts various strategies to unlock a vehicle, even without its key.

It will depend on the car’s type and its locking system.

The basic strategy is using a thin metal piece and sliding the same between the windows to access the lock.

It is called “jimmying” and this does not damage the vehicle. Of course, it will work for older types of cars that have real keys and do not have modern systems.

Modern cars come with the latest safety technologies, involving keyless remotes.

Here, the auto locksmith will reprogram the code, with the help of the VATS passcode detector.

It will be electronic-based and will be comparatively costly, to a great extent.

In these cases, the auto locksmith should possess special skills and expertise to set right the issue.

In some cases, the car manufacturer will have to intervene to make the duplicate.

2- Remove Broken Keys

Because of wear and tear of a key or sudden incorrect turns, the keys of the vehicles may snap off.

In such cases, for no fault of yours, the key will get caught in the lock and you will find it very difficult to remove them and you will be stranded.

If the keys snap in the ignition or the door, the auto locksmith deploys key extraction tools and/or key extraction kits to remove the keys.

The extraction kit usually consists of a metal piece with two small hooks, at the end and thin pliers.

But, beware when the key breaks off in the ignition, never attempt to remove the key; because if some wrong thing happens in the extraction process, it will cost a lot to your vehicle.

3- Replace or Duplicate the Keys

The auto locksmiths usually have two kinds of car keys, to work with. One type is similar to making duplicate keys for normal locks like those used in houses.

These are not attached to any electrical piece or key fob.

Another type is car keys, attached to a key fob – a small electronic hardware device, with built-in authentication mechanisms, for ensuring the security of the vehicles.

These keys, in most cases, are transponder keys, with microchips, transmitting low-level signals.

It means that they have uniquely pre-programmed chips. Each such chip is specific for that vehicle only.

The car will not be able to start, without the particular ignition, reading the code, pre-programmed in the chip.

The auto locksmith may come to your rescue by duplicating just the key portion of the fob.

But, if the key is of transponder type, it will lead you to deep trouble.

What is the Difference Between a Transponder Key and a Regular key?

A transponder key is a key that has a built-in transponder chip.

This chip sends a signal to the car’s computer, and if the signal matches what is stored in the computer’s memory, the car will start.

A regular key, on the other hand, does not have a transponder chip, and will not work with a car that has a transponder system.

If you are wondering whether do all cars have transponders?

I would say, no, not all cars have transponders. In fact, many older cars do not have transponder systems.

However, most new cars come with transponder keys, and it is becoming increasingly common for cars to have this feature.

How Do Locksmiths Make Car Keys Without the Original?

You might have come across instances when a locksmith makes a duplicate key for your vehicle lock, when the original key is lost or when it is broken or damaged.

You may wonder how he designs such a duplicate key for your car, even without seeing the original or seeing the key in a distorted form; he adopts two ways to craft the key, in such cases.

1- Cracking the code

In this method, the locksmith will disassemble the whole lock, crack the code and then create a key, exactly resembling the original but yet opening the lock.

This method is called cracking the code i.e. deciphering the pins of the lock that go to make up the lock’s code.

The pins in the lock may have different lengths and are of different orders, but they are unique for a particular lock.

The dexterity of the locksmith lies in understanding both the lengths and orders and then creating the correct duplicate.

2- Cut metal to make a car key

If you have the key code for your car, you can cut a new key at any locksmith or hardware store.

Many locksmiths will also be able to match your key code to an existing key simply by cutting a piece of metal.

However, since the process is very precise this needs a high-end key cutting machine where the metal is loaded manually to get you a lost car key replacement.

The car identification number is then sent to the machine using a code reader. The machine begins biting off the metal to match the decoded pattern from the key code reader.

If your locksmith is using a key cutting machine, check the keys for accuracy after it comes out of the machine, and compare them to your original key.

Make sure your locksmith is licensed and has sufficient expertise to complete this operation safely.

3- Creating impressions of the levers/ pins

The other method involves making an impression of the lock concerned.

You may see that here he does not need to crack any code but he will insert a blank key in the concerned lock and rotate such key in different angles/ directions multiple times.

They continue till the impressions of the pins/ levers conform to the original one and are capable of opening the particular lock.

This process requires a good amount of experience on the part of the locksmith.

Can a Locksmith Open a Locked Car Door Without a Key?

If you have locked your keys in your car, a locksmith can help get them out.

It usually only takes a few minutes for a locksmith to open a locked car door.

In most cases, they will use a special slim jim tool to open the door. This tool is inserted into the space between the door and the window and then used to push up the lock button.

The process of opening a car door without a key is actually pretty simple.

  • First, the locksmith will use the slim jim tool to wedge the door open.
  • Then, they will insert a long rod into the car and hook it onto the lock button.
  • Once the button is hooked, they will pull on the rod until the lock pops open.

Some newer cars have electronic keys that can be programmed to open the doors.

If you have one of these keys, a locksmith can still help you get into your car.

They will use a special device that reads the code on the key and then creates a duplicate key.


Where can I find my car key code?

The car key code is typically located on a tag or sticker attached to your car’s ignition key.

If you can’t find your key code, a locksmith or dealership should be able to help you out.

Can a locksmith reprogram a car computer?

Yes, a locksmith can reprogram a car computer. In fact, many new cars require a locksmith to program the computer in order to replace or duplicate keys.

In many cases, a locksmith can also make a car key from the VIN number. In fact, this is a common practice in the automotive locksmith industry.

How much does a locksmith cost to make a car key?

The cost of a locksmith to make a car key varies depending on the make and model of your car.

Expect to pay anywhere from $50-$100 to get your car locks picked.

In general, it is cheaper to rekey locks than replace them. However, there are situations where replacing the lock may be the better option.

For example, if a lock is severely damaged, it may be more cost-effective to replace it rather than try to rekey it.

The Conclusion

There are so many locksmiths who can do the task for you but their keys might not be very reliable.

This can be due to the wrong techniques or cheap material used, so it is important for you to find a professional service that you can trust for the car key replacement purposes.

Replacing car keys requires skills and it would be better to consider the service from a company that can provide their services in multiple cities.

You can research about the car locksmith in your city and make a list to find out their pricing and their reputation on the internet.

The license makes the locksmiths more trustworthy so never forget to check the license of the locksmiths.

This will ensure that you will get professional emergency services whenever needed.

Ask for the estimates and do a comparison between prices, experiences, and expertise to get the service that suits your budget.

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